The Board may pursue court proceedings where parties fail to comply with its Determination Order. There is no legal obligation on the Board to enforce its orders. Decisions on whether or not to pursue legal enforcement are made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the Board's own limited resources, the cost of taking legal proceedings and the likely success of achieving a favourable outcome for the requester.
Enforcement is an important function of the RTB. When landlords, tenants and third parties bring disputes to the RTB through mediation, adjudication or tribunal, they receive a legally binding Determination Order. The majority of these are complied with but where they are not, the RTB takes non-compliance with Determination Orders very seriously.
On receipt of a request for Determination Order enforcement, the RTB initially tries to secure enforcement by sending a letter to the non-compliant party reminding them of the terms of the Determination Order and requiring them to make arrangements to comply. If this approach is unsuccessful, then the Board will have regard to the following criteria when making a decision whether or not to pursue enforcement on a party's behalf:
- The type of dispute
- History of compliance with landlord/tenant legislation;
- Technical strength of the case (e.g. parties may agree a matter that is not legally enforceable);
- What contact/steps, if any, the person seeking compliance has taken with the non-compliant party to obtain compliance of the Order;
- Existing representations made by the RTB to the non-compliant party and relevant information obtained;
- Geographical location of dwelling;
- Particular circumstances of the case;
- Value for money evaluation;
- Maximum of three cases per person per annum may be sanctioned;
- Enforcement sanctioned only on a final outcome of all matters under dispute (e.g. if a notice of termination is invalid and a new one is required to be served, then requests for enforcement of rent arrears will not be considered in isolation to a final outcome of all matters in dispute);
- If a party is as, or better, able to enforce than the RTB then they will be expected to undertake their own enforcement;
- Overall number of cases sanctioned for enforcement will be limited to available budget in any given year;
- The extent of the non-compliant party's co-operation in seeking to discharge the debt; regard will be had to whether the party has made reasonable efforts to resolve the matter;
- Any other circumstances pertaining where the RTB considers it inappropriate that the resources available should be used in a particular case.
The RTB will take a large amount of requested enforcement cases, but it does not have the budge to take them all. To help lower the cost of enforcement for the RTB, the RTB has created a new way of supporting enforcement cases by creating a panel of solicitors who will take enforcement proceedings on behalf of the RTB. While the budget for RTB activites is limited, it is expected that by reducing the cost of enforcement proceedings and by the change to the District Court this will allow the RTB to provide legal assistance in a higher number of cases.
If you wish to request the RTB to provide assistance to you to pursue enforcement you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application form. Decisions on urgent cases are prioritised first, these include cases concerning overholding, serious rent arrears, non return of deposits and unlawful termination.